Longest Acceptable Break from Flying?


New Member
Hi all,

I apologize if something like this has been posted before (as I am sure it has), but I don't know of any good way to search for it.

It has been about 1 month since the last time I flew (largely because of weather, but also personal schedule). I am a Private Pilot with ~ 65 hours or so. I guess maybe it's just because I'm still freshly minted, but not flying for that length of time has me feeling anxious about losing my skills. Now, I don't feel as though I have forgotten anything, just that I shouldn't have gone this long without flying.

Now, what I really would like to do just grab a plane and practice by myself in the circuit for a few days before I do any real flying again. My question is this, how long would you go (or recommend someone go) without flying before you did a few hours with an instructor again? Honestly I think I would feel more comfortable just getting used to plane again on my own, but I'm interested in your opinions. What would you recommend to one of your recently licensed students?

Finally, do any of you have any suggestions as to a website I could use to keep my aeronautical knowledge refreshed? Maybe like short summaries or something I could read/watch that wouldn't take up too much time but I could do on a regular basis (an hour once or twice a week)?

Thanks in advance!


New Member
Now, I don't feel as though I have forgotten anything, just that I shouldn't have gone this long without flying.
It's well-known that our skills decay much faster than our confidence. That means we shouldn't use our confidence as a measure of our ability.

That said, the time you can lay off varies per individual, your total amount of flight time, and the frequency of flight prior to the layoff. For a new pilot, a month is a pretty long time. However, I wouldn't be so much concerned about physical skills as mental ones. If you were proficient a month ago, then review emergency procedures and go-arounds, be conscientious with your checklist usage, and go fly.


New Member
Don't sweat it too much. I'm a corporate pilot and its coming up on 8 weeks since we last flew. Granted I'm not just starting out but I know the frustration. AOPA/Air Safety Foundaton has nice presentations, slideshows of various topics.


Well-Known Member
Statistics show that a private pilot with less than 250 hours, dramatically increases the probability of an incident with a lapse in flying longer than 42 days.

I guided my pilots to go up with an instructor if it had been longer than 28-30 days.


Well-Known Member
You should sit down for a few evenings with a cold one and the Personal Minimums Checklist. Think about a situation where your daughter came to you and said she was going flying with her new boyfriend who was a 65 hr private pilot but hadn't flown in a while. How current would you want him to be? If the pilot was your son, how would you want him to regain his currency? Now apply those answers to yourself.

The Personal Mins Checklist is a great tool if you put some thought into it, and then use it to make decisions. After I personally made a flight that nearly ended badly, I heard about the checklist and I sat down one weekend and filled it out. Then I showed it to my wife, and we agreed that neither one of us would ever violate the mins we had established, regardless of how inconvient it made our situation. Pilots talk themselves into doing dumb things all the time when faced with the pressure of having to decide to make a flight or not when conditions are marginal. Take the risk out of it by deciding long before you are faced with the situation by making your own personal min checklist:

http://www.faa.gov/education_research/training/fits/guidance/media/personal minimums checklist.pdf


That One Guy
I had a similar situation when I was a new pilot. I had been flying the Cessna 150 regularly, but had not flown my instructor's 172 in a couple of months. I was not comfortable taking the 172 up by myself to get proficient, so I had my instructor go along. It was a great experience, because we got to do some things that we hadn't done while training for the private pilot's license. I got to explore the edges of my limits more than I would by myself. As a result, every few months I would call my old instructor and have him fly with me to experience some advanced techniques. It was worth every penny.


New Member
Hi all,

Thanks for all of your thoughts - it helped in my decision making.

I've decided the only reason not go with a CFI is because I would be uncomfortable that I might blow a pts, have a hard landing or some other mistake because of my rust - which is exactly why I should be with a CFI, :).

I'm on the books with my CFI for next Tuesday.

Thanks again,


Well-Known Member
A superior pilot is one who uses superior judgment to avoid having to use superior skills.

You just proved you're a superior pilot!


Old School KSUX
I as a cfi; do not care about pts one bit if there is not test at the end of the training.

We are only looking for safe.

good decision.


Well-Known Member
I took a 4 month break when I had about 100hrs. The first flight back I went and did some sightseeing and a couple stalls and steep turns, when I headed back to my home airport the approach and attempted landing was shaping up to be pretty ugly so I went around and headed over to an airport with a wider, longer runway. I did touch and goes there until I was again planting it on the centerline and top of the numbers reliably, went on home and did just fine.

The basic flying didn't really go away but that first landing was pretty scary ;) In retrospect a CFI friend would have been a good idea.

It's the longest break I've had to date, so I'm fortunate in that respect!